The Ministry of Finance has released the first tranche of funds for the free water supplied to Ghanaians under the COVID-19 pandemic combat and impact mitigation measures.
At a media briefing in Accra on Friday,7th August 2020, to throw light on the subject, the Chief Executive of Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA), Engineer Worlanyo Kwadjo Siabi (MV), assured the public, particularly the water service providers that the Government has not, and would not, renege on its promise to absorb the cost of free water to the public for the period April to September 2020.
He rebutted the claim by a non-state pressure group, Association of Small Towns Water Supply Systems, that Government has failed to honour her obligation to reimburse providers for the free water served the Ghanaian populace since April 2020. Rather, the Government, through the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources, has already released some funds to start payments to the free water benefactors.
Any publication (such as Herald Newspaper’s dated Wednesday 5th August, 2020 with the headline “Private Water Suppliers Kick Against Gov’t Free Water Directive”) that seeks to portray Government in a negative light and dampen the spirit of the free water providers should be ignored. Instead, the providers should continue their service and bide their time a little as their claims are validated and funds channeled through the District Assemblies to commence payments.
“It’s never true that government has reneged on its pledge to pay the WSMTs, Non – Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and other service providers. The plan is that the service providers are to submit their data and bills for the free water that has been consumed by communities from April to June through the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) for validation before payment is done but the process has been fraught with some challenges hence the delay”, he indicated.
The CWSA Chief Executive was emphatic that the Government was committed to alleviating the plight of Ghanaians hence the extension of the period of free water for another 3 three months. Elaborating on the process to date, and steps being followed to speedily release the free water funds, he enumerated the benefactors, the claim submission and reimbursement procedures, the bottlenecks to expedited payments and the CWSA approach to resolving the challenges.
The water providers other than CWSA and GWCL include:
- Communities (through their Water and Sanitation Management Teams);
- Non-Governmental Organizations;
- Private, profit-oriented organizations
- Individual water service providers
According to the Chief Executive, when the Government announced the free water programme, it also requested budgets for same from CWSA and GWCL. The CWSA took the initiative to publish guidelines for the compilation of such budgets from all water service providers by requesting that the MMDAs serve as the first points of collation and verification while CWSA Regional offices would support the MMDAs validate the submissions. The CWSA Head Office then did the national level collation and transmission to the Ministry of Finance through the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources.
The challenges that have pushed against the quick disbursement of the funds include:
- Delayed submission of bills from water providers.
- Data not provided in accordance with guidelines.
- Inaccurate water consumption data.
- Unpaid huge electricity bills before the Free Water period were submitted as part of cost of current free water.
- Inclusion of capital cost expenditure as part of free water bills.
- Non-submission of bills by some communities and providers.
- Communities that have broken down water systems also submitted bills for free water.
- Some water service providers sold the water to communities and yet submitted bills.
All the same, the CWSA is following these modalities in compilation of free water data, submission to government for the release of funds and disbursement of the funds to water service providers through the MMDAs as follows:
- Free water provided and corresponding bills are to be documented and submitted to the MMDAs by water service providers immediately after the end of each month.
- MMDAs are to verify and compile the bills and submit same to CWSA Regional Office.
- CWSA Regional Offices will validate and compile the bills according to MMDAs, carry out field checks to confirm free water provision and submit validated bills from water service providers to CWSA Head Office.
- CWSA Head Office will collate all Free Water Bills and submit to the Ministry of Finance through the Ministry of Sanitation and Water resources for the release of funds and payment to the MMDAs
- MMDAs make payment to water service providers.
Engineer Worlanyo Siabi took the opportunity to highlight the far-reaching measures that Government had taken to institute sustainable measures for continuous supply of safe water to Ghanaians.